I’ve always viewed our blog as an opportunity to share real-life experiences with readers to help you avoid some of the same mistakes we see other people making with their marketing and sales execution.
We’ve been doing this for so long and we’ve had so many experiences with companies of all shapes and sizes that there’s an opportunity to help others be smarter about how they grow their companies.
One of the challenges prospects talk to us about most frequently is what we call “random acts of marketing.” Or in this case, you could refer to it as “random acts of revenue generation.” Most companies that try to drive revenue on their own with some of the new marketing tactics end up with less-than-stellar results primarily because they’re working without a strategy.
Some of the prospects have expressed similar concerns from their experiences with other agencies. The concept of “random acts of marketing” came from a client that had such an experience working with an agency — no rhyme or reason to what they were doing, tactics without any thinking and a lot of trying but not a lot of planning. The outcome was a lack of results.
What I’m going to do today is highlight some of the differences between revenue generation execution with strategy versus revenue generation execution without strategy. If you’d like to substitute “digital marketing” for “revenue generation,” that’s fine, but we view our role as much more than marketing (since we focus on sales execution as well).
Here we go.
Goals And Objectives With Strategy Vs. Goals And Objectives Without Strategy
Without Strategy: If you don’t have defined goals and objectives, it’s a little like trying to get to a destination without a final address. It’s just not happening. We meet a lot of CEOs and VPs of marketing who have clear objectives, but they are not measurable (or in some cases, not reasonable based on budgets, timing or even market conditions).
Without SMART goals (specific, measurable, assignable, reasonable and time-based), you’ll never really know if your investment in marketing and sales improvement is working and to what extent. This contributes to the age-old question: What was the ROI on my marketing investment? You won’t know if you don’t think strategically about what you want to see because of that investment.
With Strategy: Now your destination becomes clear. You want to go from point A to point B. You want it to take four weeks and you’ll know when you get there because specific conditions will be visible. In our case, it requires us defining the current state of the buyer journey metrics. From first click all the way to close and even into customer revenue generation, what does this look like quantitatively today?
Then you create the end-stage buyer journey metrics. Now you know when you get there, and when you do get there, you should be realizing the kind of revenue growth you expected when you created your plan. Once you have the current state and the end state defined, the delta becomes clear, and the work required to move from current state to end state also becomes clear. Now you can budget, plan resources and consider how long it’s going to take to achieve the end state.
Messaging And Differentiation With Strategy Vs. Messaging And Differentiation Without Strategy
Without Strategy: Coming up with disruptive, compelling and emotional messages is hard work. It takes a specific skill set, and it requires being both creative and concise. It involves right-brain and left-brain thinking. Coming up with a way to make your company remarkable is even harder. You need to challenge your own status quo and, in some cases, break old paradigms.
Therefore, most companies blow right by this work, opting for what everyone else is saying or sticking with whatever they’ve been using. Or worse, they attempt to come up with messaging in-house and settle on a safe message that appeases everyone. This is not going to move the needle, get you to your goals or help your company grow top-line revenue. It’s only going to keep you in the exact place you are right now. To get to the next level, you must do something different.
With Strategy: When you apply messaging and differentiation strategy, you get truly interesting stories and headlines, and disruptive content that can move the market in your direction. Yes, this might require you to take a chance. Yes, it might require you to position your company differently than your competitors. Yes, it’s going to require everyone in the company to start talking differently about your business. But these are the massive changes that need to be planned for and executed if you want to get to the next level.
The strategy work that helps you stand out in your crowd of competitors is among the best investment you’ll make in marketing over the course of the year. It’s better than a new website, better than new software, better than email marketing and better than hiring an SEO firm. These changes position your company as better, more remarkable and the only option to do business with, and they pay off year after year.
Marketing Execution With Strategy Vs. Marketing Execution Without Strategy
Without Strategy: This is the definition of random acts of marketing. Let’s build you a website. Let’s try an email marketing campaign. Need some content on your website? Let’s do a whitepaper. You should have video, because everyone is doing video these days. Any of this sound familiar? Or it could be worse, if you’re telling your agency what you want them to work on for you. On top of all this, you have disparate tactics being executed with no orchestration and no clear vision on the contribution from each tactic. In the end, you spend a ton of money and get little or no results.
With Strategy: When execution gets done in conjunction with strategy, you have a website design that is being built with the prospect visitor experience at the core of all your decisions. The pages you’re planning are designed to rank on Google for keywords and to answer questions for visitors. The content marketing you’re creating has a contextual home on certain relevant pages and you’re thinking about how content can also help in the sales process. Your email marketing is designed to drive people to key pages on the site and those emails provide additional educational content to promote your existing content. Social media promotes blogs, long-form content and key pillar pages.
The differences are like night and day. But perhaps the biggest benefit is you get a “one plus one equals three” result. Campaign tactics build on each other and the performance metrics align with the business results and business outcomes — your company is growing top-line revenue. Yes, it’s more complicated to do it this way, but this is how you use today’s marketing tactics to drive revenue.
Sales Execution With Strategy Vs. Sales Execution Without Strategy
Without Strategy: You won’t ever achieve sustainable, scalable, repeatable and predictable revenue generation without a strategic approach to sales. This means looking at your sales process from an entirely different perspective — your prospects’ perspective. Right now, your salespeople are out there trying to connect, asking for meetings and submitting proposals. Some are successful, others not so much.
Each of your salespeople is doing it a little bit differently, with no playbooks, processes, systems or technology to create a consistent experience for your prospects. The result is bumpy sales; some months you kill it, while others you blow it. It’s difficult to project, difficult to forecast and difficult to plan for inconsistent sales results. Worse, the company just isn’t growing. You’ve been at the same level for the last few years. Your prospects don’t buy like they did 10 years ago, but you still have a sales process, a sales team and sales technology from 10 years ago. It’s finally time for you to change.
With Strategy: You start with your prospects. What do they need? What questions do they have? What experience do you need to create to get them to feel safe with your company? What content do you have to provide? What stories do you need your sales team to tell and when? How do you ensure everyone tells the same story, sends the same emails and provides the same content in exactly the same way every time for every prospect?
You plan out every touch point, arm the sales team with tools, measure their performance, set goals, and train them on the new tools and the new process. You coach them along the way and set clear expectations around everything. Now you go from a collection of salespeople to a sales process that produces predictable, scalable and repeatable revenue month in and month out. Your company grows.
Customer Service With Strategy Vs. Customer Service Without Strategy
Without Strategy: A lot of similarities exist between the sales situation and the customer service situation. If you have a customer service team, they have need a playbook around taking care of your customers. How do they interact and communicate? What are the policies? How do you upsell, cross sell and gain their advocacy? When do you ask for a review online? What tools have they been given to communicate with customers and get them to buy more or renew their services?
All of this has to be thought out and built into a process that everyone executes religiously. Just like the sales process, you need a strategically designed customer service process that ensures you deliver a remarkable service experience to every single customer, every single day.
With Strategy: Once you put this in place, you’ll see revenue from existing customers increasing. Do you know that it’s easier to get revenue from current customers than new customers? Do you know this revenue also costs less to acquire? Yet most businesses don’t focus on revenue generation from existing customers.
You have to strategically plan to engage with customers to get them to renew and buy new products. You’re going to want to activate your customer base from an advocacy perspective. The more customers provide references, write reviews and give you Net Promoter Score (NPS) feedback, the easier it is to grow your company. You must spend as much (or more) time and invest as much (or more) money in giving them a remarkable experience as you do in trying to get net new customers to sign up. To execute flawlessly, you need a strategy.
It should be clear from the comparisons that if you don’t have a strategy, you shouldn’t expect to see the dramatic and transformational growth you’re seeking. To share some even more specific client-related strategic successes, we’ve had three clients execute an exit as a result of strategic, sustained and orchestrated revenue growth.
Blue Mountain Recycling, one of our earliest clients, sold to Waste Management. SOLitude Lake Management, which worked with us closely for years and remains one of our advocates today, sold the company to Rentokil North America in November. Compliance Wave was sold to Steele Compliance Solutions in 2017 as well.